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Madhya Pradesh’s ‘Irritating Bill’ faces stiff opposition

Before it could see the light of the day, the Tang Karne Wali Mukadamabazi Nivaran Vidheyak (Prevention of Irritating Legal Practices Bill) has attracted wide criticism. The Bill, the local activists have said, is primarily being introduced to provide
immunity to the chief minister and other ministers. Local activists would organise a march against the Bill in the state capital soon.

The state government has proposed to introduce the Bill to bar individuals, activists and whistleblowers to bring litigation against the state chief minister and his cabinet colleagues without any sufficient reason. The state cabinet has approved the Bill last week seeking immunity against “unnecessary and irritating” petitions. Similar laws, if highly placed state government officials are believed, are prevalent in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

The proposed Bill would empower the state’s advocate general to examine the litigation before it would be presented before the court. He may also raise objection to any litigation against the chief minister or a minister if he ascertains that the litigation is intended to harass the Chief Minister and or his cabinet colleagues.

“The Bill violates fundamental rights of a commoner to move the court against any person irrespective of his position and status. It also curtails court powers vested in them by the Indian Constitution,” Ajay Dubey, a social activists and member of Transparency International told BS, “We will move to United Nations and later to court to get the Bill scuttled if passed in Assembly.”

On the contrary the government officials have a different opinion. “It is not as simple as it is being perceived. The advocate general will have to convince the court that the petition is moved solely to harass the chief minister or (any of) his cabinet colleagues. Otherwise the court would have all rights to accept the litigation or dismiss it,” a senior government official said.

Main Opposition Congress, which has intensified its protest against a multi-crore entrance exam scam, alleged the Bill is a tactics of the ruling party to save its chief minister and others from the scam. The ill-famed scam is known as ‘Vyapam Ghotala’.

Leader of Opposition in assembly Satyadev Katare has alleged that the state chief minister wanted to take a refuge under such Act so that an escape route could be ensured for him and those who are involved in the scam. He said the Congress would move to High Court to get the Bill stymied.

Last week a delegation comprising former state chief minister Digvijay Singh, former union minister Kamal Nath and Kapil Sibal called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the scam.

It is also learnt that they had handed over the “excel sheet” retrieved from the computer of a Professional Examination Board employee and alleged that the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had orchestrated manipulation of the sheet to get his name cleared as recommender and also allegedly arranged replacement it with Union minister Uma Bharti.

However a constitutional expert opined, “High Courts are vested with full constitutional and prerogative powers to admit any lawsuit against any government or its functionary. The proposed Bill only would empower the advocate general to raise objections to “harassing” points in any litigation against political bigwigs.”